Andrew Coburn
Simon & Schuster, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-81529-X

review by Harriet Klausner

In 1932, Helen Shellenbach's grip on reality is very loose, to say the least. When Helen accidentally kills her infant child, her desperate husband, Shell, quickly realizes that he needs a replacement to assuage his spouses grief and guilt before she suffers a nervous breakdown. Like any loyal husband, he goes out and kidnaps a baby, who happens to be the son of Charles and Ann Lindbergh. The Shellenbachs raise the lad as if he were their own child, calling him David. A few years later, Helen completes her spin into insanity and is committed. When David turns thirteen, Helen recommends that Shell return David to the Lindberghs, an act he refuses because the child is now a part of him.

More years pass and by the nineteen seventies David is running for governor of Massachusetts. His father is dying of cancer and decides the time to tell him the truth has arrived. He informs David who his biological parents truly are. His biological father is dead, but his birth mother and natural siblings still live. Once he recovers from the denial stage, David has several difficult decisions to make that will effect the lives of himself and those close to him.

Birthright is an interesting story line based on a twist to the Lindbergh kidnapping case. Shell is a fabulous character struggling to survive his one error in life by doing the best he can for David. The relationship between David and Shell (before and after the revelation) is also brilliantly drawn. Andrew Coburn brings a unique freshness to the historical fiction genre with this compelling story.

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